Orlando Day Trips – 7 Spots for More Florida Fun

When you need a little more excitement, adventure, or relaxation in your Florida vacation, add any of these day trips from Orlando to your itinerary.

Believe it or not, it’s possible to get tired of Orlando’s abundant theme parks, water parks, and airboat tours. If you’ve outgrown Mickey, Minnie, and Harry Potterland or are craving a little urban adventure on your Orlando vacation, fear not… We have the perfect day trip from Orlando!

Travelers can visit safari parks, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, water gardens, space complexes, and countless charming towns across the sunshine state. There’s the quaint hamlet of St. Augustine, with its cobblestone streets, forts, and European vibe. Visitors can also catch a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral, then get behind the scenes at the World’s Center of Racing in Daytona.

Outdoor enthusiasts can explore a plethora of wildlife parks like Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, botanical gardens, or maybe a heart-pounding airboat ride cruising through the heady, thrilling back bays of the Florida Everglades.

Of course, you can’t go wrong visiting the bonanza of world-famous beaches on the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. However, if you like to get off the beaten path, unwind and feel the luminous wind of the open road, we have the best road trips from Orlando. Road trips are good for the soul!

water coastline view of hotel and buildings on a sunny day in Daytona Beach, Florida, USA7 Perfect Central Florida Day Trips from Orlando

No need to feel overwhelmed. Tripster has narrowed down your searches to the best of the best. So check out any of these excellent day trips near Orlando.


Day Trip to Tampa from Orlando

Distance between Orlando and Tampa Florida: 84.2 miles, 1 hour and 21 minutes by car.
Tampa, Florida, is home to many family-friendly attractions, museums, and outdoor adventures. Grab Busch Gardens Tampa tickets if you’ve still got the theme park bug.

On top of boasting some of Florida’s biggest and baddest roller coasters, the park is also home to more than 12,000 animals, making it one of the largest zoos in North America.

While exploring Tampa, make time for these popular attractions:

Instead, if you’d rather enjoy Tampa’s nearby beaches, we have the best beach day trip from Orlando. Grab your things and head to Ben T. Davis Beach. You could also check out Honeymoon Island State Park or Sand Key Park for a seaside jaunt.

What’s more, the famous Bok Tower Gardens, just an hour east of Tampa, hosts an unparalleled bird sanctuary, renowned landscape garden, and 20-room Mediterranean-style mansion, El Retiro at Pinewood. The garden’s 205-foot Art Deco and neo-Gothic Singing Tower with carillon bells fascinates millions of tourists annually.

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Busch Gardens® Tampa: Coupons, Discounts, and Deals

You could also take some day trips from Tampa and around the eclectic city, especially if you’re a sports fan. Several pro sports teams call Tampa home, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL), Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), and Florida Panthers (NHL). So get tickets to the game and cheer on Tampa’s home teams!

Is It Easy to Drive From Tampa to Orlando?

Undeniably, the drive from Orlando to Tampa is a brief one, making it an effortless journey for many road trippers. Interstates that are well-maintained and intuitively laid out contribute to this ease. Therefore, the majority of individuals find navigating from Tampa to Orlando by car a relatively uncomplicated experience.

walk way over river with sculptural arch with trees and building in the distance at Tampa Riverwalk in Tampa Bay, Florida, USA
photo credit: Tampa Riverwalk via Facebook

Clearwater, FL

Distance from Orlando: 106 miles, 1 hour and 56 minutes by car.
One of the top must-do day trips from Orlando resides on the stunning Gulf of Mexico. Situated just past Tampa on Florida’s West Coast, Clearwater, Florida, is an exciting day trip destination for all ages. With its picture-perfect white-sand beaches, seafood restaurants, and the seemingly endless number of beachfront hotels, this premiere spot is not to be missed.

Clearwater is among the top day trips from Orlando for families, thanks to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This aquatic museum educates kids and adults about Winter, the star of the hit movie “Dolphin Tale.” The Marine Aquarium rescued Winter and developed a prosthetic tail to help her maneuver through the water.

Throughout your aquarium experience, you’ll learn about the facility’s dedication to rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing marine animals such as turtles, dolphins, and river otters.

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Real Florida Adventures: Coupons, Discounts, and Deals

Also, if you take a Clearwater Beach day trip from Orlando with Dolphin Encounter Cruises, you can soak up the sunshine with a half-day tour exploring the coastal sites and year-round dolphins!

Equally important, the area has several entertaining boat tours, and some of the best Air Boat Rides the Alligator State offers. Other Clearwater attractions and activities include:

  • Florida Botanical Gardens
  • Pier 60
  • Clearwater Beach and Boat Tours
  • Capitol Theatre

In addition to Clearwater Beach, visitors can sunbathe or swim at nearby beaches, including Honeymoon Island State Park, Caladesi Island, Sand Key Park, and Belleair Beach.

Sunset over Clearwater Beach with the pier in the middle and lots of clouds near Tampa, Florida, USAFlorida’s Space Coast

Distance from Orlando: 51.4 miles, 50 minutes by car.
One of the most incredible day trips from Orlando is just under an hour away from the city. Visitors can discover the inner workings of this astonishing spaceflight facility and watch a rocket launch right before their eyes.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is arguably the most popular attraction on the Space Coast. At the Space Center, guests can interact with numerous hands-on exhibits, like Space Shuttle Atlantis, and learn all about asteroid hunters in one of the many IMAX movies. Families can also purchase add-on experiences such as lunch with an astronaut! Don’t want to drive yourself? Hop on the Kennedy Space Center day trip with transportation!

Other exciting destinations along Florida’s Space Coast include:

  • Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
  • Cape Canaveral Lighthouse
  • Port Canaveral
  • Brevard Zoo
  • Sebastian Inlet State Park
  • Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier

Of course, the Space Coast offers several beaches for families to encounter and maybe a water park or two. Sidney Fischer Park, Pelican Beach Park, and Bonsteel Park are excellent options for those looking to relax, surf, or catch a glimpse of local wildlife. If you can, try to catch a shuttle launch experience while you’re in the area!

Wide shot of a Rocket Launching from Cape Canaveral with a sign for the US Space Force on a sunny day near Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: Space Force Recruiting via Facebook

Crystal River, Florida

Distance from Orlando: 86.5 miles, 1 hour and 39 minutes by car.
Interested in spending the day spotting manatees? Crystal River, Florida, is located on the western side of Florida, known as the “Natural Coast.” You’ll find ample places to see sea critters and explore the great outdoors.

Related Post: Insider’s Guide to Real Florida Adventures

The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge provides tours and other events designed to educate visitors about protecting and preserving Florida’s threatened manatee population.

Another top spot for viewing manatees and learning about Crystal River’s natural environment is Three Sisters Springs. This destination offers trolley tours, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and a ¼-mile boardwalk for manatee viewing!

Other things to do in Crystal River, Florida, include:

  • Hunter Springs Park
  • Churchhouse Hammock Trail
  • The Coastal Heritage Museum
  • Fort Island Gulf Beach Fishing Pier
  • Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
  • Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins

Sneak in a quick beach holiday during your Crystal River Day trip by visiting Fort Island Gulf Beach or Alfred McKethan Park nearby.

Crystal River Central FloridaDaytona Beach, Florida

Distance from Orlando: 55.1 miles, 58 minutes by car.
It’s not just one of the prime spring break destinations in the United States. If you’re a NASCAR fan, you’ll agree that Daytona Beach, Florida, is one of the best day trips from Orlando. Home to the iconic Daytona International Speedway, this beachside town hosts the Daytona 500 NASCAR race each February.

Related Post: 24 Best Places to Stay in Florida

If the International Speedway isn’t enough of a draw for you, on the way to Daytona, you can quickly detour to Blue Spring State Park and then onward to New Smyrna Beach, just south of Daytona. This surf hub is best known for its magnificent coastline, coastal Dunes Park, and the nearby Canaveral National Seashore with crystal blue waters.

The downtown Canal Street Historic District, lined with palm trees, art galleries, and quaint boutiques, is also a popular travel destination.

Needless to say, that’s not all there is to do here. While escaping Orlando’s heat, check out these entertaining experiences in Daytona Beach:

  • Daytona Lagoon
  • The Daytona Beach Boardwalk
  • Museum of Arts and Sciences
  • Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens
  • Sun Splash Park

Also, Daytona Beach boasts 23 miles of coastal paradise for you to enjoy. So, whether you kick back, work on your tan, or hang ten on the Atlantic waves, there’s always plenty to do at the beach!

St. Augustine, Florida

Distance from Orlando: 107 miles, 1 hour and 44 minutes by car.
Did you know St. Augustine, Florida, is the oldest city in America? Since its founding in 1565 by Spanish explorers, this Florida town is overflowing with intriguing chronicles.

Related Post: 23 Unforgettable Romantic Things to Do in Saint Augustine for Couples

If you’re a history buff and delight in ghost tours and old-time museums, you’ll find this 450-year-old metropolis a spot-on beach refuge.

If you take a St. Augustine day trip from Orlando, prepare to embark on numerous trolley tours to historical sites, lush wineries, and romantic dining getaways.

With notable landmark attractions, like the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, Fort Matanzas, and the St. Augustine Lighthouse, you’ll find endless excursions to fill your day.

Other incredible sites of this harbor town include:

Similarly, with other family day trips from Orlando, St. Augustine is home to picture-perfect waterfront escapes. Some of the top beaches in the area include Crescent Beach, North Beach, and Vilano Beach.

Wide shot of the historic style Spanish buildings with red roofs and a fountain at Guy Harvey Oceanfront Resort St. Augustine Beach in St Augustine, Florida, USA
photo credit: Guy Harvey Oceanfront Resort St. Augustine Beach via Facebook

Day Trips from Gainesville, FL

Distance from Orlando: 111 miles, 1 hour and 43 minutes by car.
Gainesville, Florida, is best known for housing the University of Florida and the iconic Gators collegiate sports teams. However, the area is also home to many outdoor activities and museums designed to spark the curiosity and interest of worldwide travelers. Day trips from Gainesville are under two hours and worth the scenic drive through the gorgeous wetlands.

The Kanapaha Botanical Garden is a popular attraction among families visiting the area. The botanical gardens boast 24 collections of plants and wildlife along a 1.5-mile paved path. Included in the anthologies are the state’s largest public display of bamboo and the most extraordinary herb garden in the entire Southeast.

Related Post: Educational Summer Vacation with Kids – Orlando

While exploring Gainesville for the day, consider stopping by:

  • Florida Museum of Natural History
  • Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park
  • Harn Museum of Art
  • Haile Homestead

Since Gainesville, Florida, is located in the greater Central Florida area, it’s not the top choice for a beach day. However, the city is bursting with numerous state and outdoor parks.

From hiking trails to wildlife spotting, these Gainesville parks are the perfect addition to your day trips from Orlando:

  • Ichetucknee Springs State Park
  • Depot Park
  • San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park
  • Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Most importantly, on the drive north to Gainesville, antiquarians and collectors will revel in Mount Dora, a Central Florida city known for its antique shops and annual festivals.

For instance, the downtown Modernism Museum displays rare, contemporary furniture, while the Museum of Speed hosts an extensive collection of classic cars, plus a replica 1940s gas station. Finally, stop for lunch near Lake Eustis with its numerous waterside cafes.

view of brick streets and old buildings at night with lights in Gainesville, Florida, USA

Meanwhile, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can keep driving south on an extended day trip to Miami from Orlando. This 234.8-mile trek via Florida’s Turnpike takes travelers about three hours and 35 minutes to drive.

Which Day Trips Central Florida Will You Go On?

Whether you want to learn more about the solar system on the Space Coast, swim amungst gentle giants at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife Preserve, or bask in the sunny rays, sipping fruity concoctions with your toes in the sand—it’s all just a short drive from Orlando.

And, no matter which of the Orlando day trips you choose, we’re sure you’ll enjoy fun Florida day trip tours in Orlando to enrich your time and catch a sunbeam in the beautiful Everglade state.

Orlando Vacation Lodging & Hotels

Of course, Tripster specializes in day trips in FL but did you know we’re also aficionados in tours, activity tickets, hotel rooms, and vacation packages, as well as excursions in Orlando? Make sure to check with us first before booking your Orlando lodging. We have Hotels Near Disney World and dozens of Orlando Hotels and Resorts throughout the city, perfect to fit your needs.

Orlando Day Trips FAQs

Can you escape Orlando's bustling theme parks for a day and head to Miami instead? Yes, indeed! Spend a day away from Orlando's theme parks and take a trip to Miami where you can experience a completely different vibe with its sun-soaked beaches, vibrant nightlife and distinct Latino influence.

You can stop at the famous West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale for even more sandy beaches, art, and culture along the way. Miami is a magical city filled with trendy galleries, chic boutiques, and decadent restaurants. It's easy to see why beach day trips from Orlando Florida are so popular!

How many days are enough to fully experience all that Orlando has to offer? While the answer largely depends on your personal preferences and pace, many travelers find that a stay of five days allows ample time to explore the city's main attractions, certainly including its world famous theme parks. Remember, extending your visit beyond five days can provide an opportunity to venture further afield, perhaps for a day trip to the nearby vibrant city of Miami.

Which Day Trip Orlando was your Favorite?

Have you taken any day trips from central Florida or maybe a day trip to Florida? Leave us a comment below about your trips from Orlando!

close up of Erin smiling on a sunny day

Written by Erin Poche

Erin Poche` is a Utah-based writer and editor for Tripster and contributing writer for BeyondType1. She also writes and edits for an indie...

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